Stuck in Sumas…

The bad news is that the bike completely gave up the ghost in Sumas, WA. The good news is that it was on the US side of the border so I’m not quite as fucked as I would have been otherwise. In the last few miles, I noticed that there was a small oil leak. The starter issue from last year came back with a vengeance too and I had more and more trouble getting it to start. (The border crossing deserves a mention – I was through in about 2 minutes – typical of everytime I show up on a motorcycle rather than a car. The novelty of girl on a motorcycle apparently works charms on border security every single time. The guard even helped me push my bike to a side when it wouldn’t start.)

When I stopped to refuel after crossing the border into the United States, the lights all dimmed and the GPS lost power (the mount had mysteriously started working this morning) clearly indicating another battery issue. This in spite of the fact that I had been riding all morning. After this it just plain stopped and wouldn’t start up.

I had concerns about the oil leak, so I got some 10W40 and filled it up. I got a little overzealous though, and filled it up way above the sight class window level. What do they say about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing? :| I tried all manner of things to get the motor to turn over – bmp starting, jumping from someone’s car, nothing worked.

There was nothing to it except to park it at the gas station and come back for it later during the week – the gas station people were nice enough to say that it was okay to leave it there. I was also lucky enough to have a good friend drop everything to come drive up and pick me up. I must have done something right in my life sometime to have such good people in my life!

Things could be a lot worse. I took a gamble in riding this bike up knowing that it was plagued with electrical issues. I can go  shoulda, coulda, woulda but that’s just going to be so much navel-gazing. Yeah, it sucks that I’m not home free yet and enjoying the rest of this beautiful day in Seattle, but I *am* in a comfortable place and I get to have a bit of a road trip down highway 9 with good friends. Above all, it’s good to know who my friends really are and whom I can count on when the chips are down.

Published by Rashmi Tambe

I am a motorcyclist from Seattle, WA. This blog records my motorcycle, code-monkey and travel related musings! For the other motorcycling related site I run, check out Global Women Who Ride.

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  1. Sounds like alternator problems to me… :(
    Might be a short somewhere as well. When you get the bike home, check and clean all switches and connections you can find. Check the fuses. Take a multimeter and check the current through the battery and everywhere else.

    Maybe it is just corrosion dirt on some part of the network…

    Good on your friends, by the way. That’s something you need in life.

  2. I think I will most likely bring it home and just try to figure it out in September when I am home again. I’m in over my head with work right now. :|

  3. I had electrical problems with my Suzuki DRZ-400S that almost drove me out of my mind. The symptom was that the battery was not getting charged while riding, so eventually it drained and the bike stopped running. I looked at the stator (part of the alternator) and it was cooked, so I got a new one. The problem was still there. So I got a new battery, that didn’t help. Then I got a new voltage regulator. At this point, all the parts involved in charging the battery were brand new, but the problem didn’t go away. The $150 regulator worked for a day, then no more. I got a new one (another $150) and it worked for a month, then it stranded me on I-90 about 80 miles from home. In the end, it turned out that the problem was with the connector from the regulator to the wiring harness. After I replaced that with high-quality crimp connectors (with glue-filled heat-shrink insulation), it’s been 100% bulletproof since then.
    Also, I finally got a clue and installed 2 (!) voltage meters, so I can keep an eye on what’s going on with the battery. If it stops being charged for whatever reason, I have at least an hour of riding before the bike stalls, so I can use that time to get closer to home rather than further away. I highly recommend a small voltage gauge. They are not that easy to find; I got this one which is nice and small:
    I also have a larger one installed that displays the voltage as a number.

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